The word is faithful, and I desire that
thou insist strenuously on these things,
that they who have believed God may
take care to pay diligent attention to
good works. These things are good and
profitable to men.
And let ours learn to apply themselves
to good works for necessary wants, that
they may not be unfruitful.
English Standard Version:
The saying is trustworthy, and I want
you to insist on these things, so that
those who have believed in God may
be careful to devote themselves to good
works. These things are excellent and
profitable for people.
And let our people learn to devote
themselves to good works, so as to
help cases of urgent need, and not
to be unfruitful.
The Apostle Paul sets forth in no uncertain terms that Christian believers must be diligent in devoting themselves to good works. The words “to take care or be careful” in the Greek mean: to give sustained thought to something; to fix one’s attention on; to give careful attention, and to think seriously about. The Greek word is in the present tense, which calls for continual, habitual action. God exhorts us in His Word to make it a habit to seriously think about and fix our attention to devoting ourselves to good works. The word “devote” is the Greek word proistemi, which means: to excel, to take the lead in; to be at the head of, and to attend to with care and diligence. It has the idea of standing before others in a position of leadership. It is someone who stands in front and leads the whole group.
Rogers and Rogers, in The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, state that “The word has a technical meaning: ‘to practice a profession.’” We are to excel and be leaders in good works. God wants us to assume a position of leadership in producing good works in our families, our churches, our jobs, and our communities. We have leaders in politics, leaders in business, and leaders in education, but what about leaders in good works? We need leaders in loving people. We need leaders in compassion. We need leaders in tenderness. We need leaders in mercy. We need leaders in speaking the truth. We need leaders in healing the brokenhearted. We need leaders in encouragement. We need leaders in forgiveness. The world is in desperate need of leaders in good works who love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and energetically manifest His goodness in their words and deeds. God needs us to assume a role of leadership and responsibility to be completely devoted to doing good works that flow from our new creation in Christ.
Our profession, our occupation, and our employment are to excel in good works that bring God’s goodness into the challenges and circumstances of our times. God wants us to stand in first place when it comes to doing good works energized by Him that reach the hearts and lives of people on every level. What profession, what passion, and what purpose are we practicing in our lives? What better profession to be called to then to excel in good works? No matter if we are a nurse, or a mailman, or a laborer, or a doctor, we can practice our calling and profession to excel and be leaders in good works in our workplaces, in our homes, and in our communities.
To excel in your profession of doing good works does not happen overnight. Verse 14 states that we must learn to lead and excel in good works. It is a growing process that requires great dedication and commitment of heart. The word “learn” in the Greek means: intentional learning by inquiry, study and observation; to direct one’s mind to something to produce an external effect; learning with a close connection with action or behavior, and learning through repeated action. A form of this word is translated “disciple,” where it emphasizes a relationship where one learns through a teacher to the extent that such learning and knowledge is applied in the pupil’s life.
We learn to excel in good works by the study of the Bible, by observation of and relationship with the leaders in the church, and by the leading of the Holy Spirit in practicing the art of doing good works. We are to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ who follow his example of good works. We learn by God teaching and inspiring us, by men and women of God teaching us in words and actions, and by boldly walking forth and doing the good works. We must be patient in our growth, but we will grow in our walk of good works if we trust God, become rooted and grounded in His Word, pray continually, and walk by the holy spirit. We are to be disciples who are known for our excellence in bringing God’s goodness into the heart of all our works. God wants an unwavering commitment, empowered by the new creation in Christ, to diligently pursue good works as the disciples of Christ.
People cry out all over the world for these good works that are energized by God in the Christian believer. Titus clearly states that when we excel in good works, “it is excellent and profitable for people” and can help people in cases of urgent need. The word “profitable” in the Greek means: useful, profitable, beneficial, helpful, and that which yields advantageous results. It provides something one needs to attain a certain goal. The word “urgent” in the Greek means: that which one cannot do without because it is indispensable and what is required to be done by the circumstances. It is what ought to be done according to the law of duty.
When we excel in good works, in both the world and in the Body of Christ, it is profitable and yields advantageous results in the lives of the people we touch. When we excel in good works, we help people attain the God-designed goals and purposes for their lives. When we excel in good works, we help people to accomplish and pursue their particular gifting in the Body of Christ. When we excel in good works, we give people something that they can not do without because we are bringing God’s goodness into their lives no matter what the circumstance.
It is our sacred duty as Christians, according to God’s calling, to love and devote ourselves to help people with pressing needs and urgent wants, with God’s goodness in our words and actions. Every place we go, there is an urgent demand for a born again son or daughter of God to rise up and diligently devote their life to doing good works in the service of our God. Everyday you have something to say and do that will show forth our Savior’s love and compassion. We cannot remain silent. We cannot sit around and do nothing. We are the hands, feet, mouth, eyes, and heart which Jesus Christ reaches out to the world.
Matthew West, in his song “Something to Say,” echoes this calling to good works:
Wake up, 7:32AM
Can’t believe its time to do it all over again
Yesterday, it took all you had
And your wandering if you will ever get it back
But the whole world is waiting for
Waiting for you to step out that door
Come on, and let your life be heard today
You got something to say
If you’re livin’, if you’re breathin’
You got something to say
And you know if your heart is beatin’
You got something to say
And no one can say it like you do
God is love and love speaks through
You got it, you got it
You got something to say
Listen up, I got a question here
Would anyone miss you if you disappeared?
Well your life is the song that you sing
And the whole world is listening
Well the answer to the question is
You were created, your life is a gift and
The lights are shining on you today, ’cause
You got something to say
God only has one you. As His poetic masterpiece in Christ, you have gifts, abilities, and talents that God uniquely designed for you that no other person on Earth possesses. God needs you to step forward and let your light shine in the wonderful way God has designed for you. You need to see the beauty of your new life in Christ. God needs us to produce exquisite and awesome works of goodness that honor and glorify Him. Our lives are wasted when we do not live for the glory of God. If we fail to excel in good works, the world will suffer, people will suffer, and the body of Christ will suffer. The whole world is waiting. Our cities and towns are waiting. Our families and churches are waiting. Now is the time to excel.
Matthew 5:14-16 (New King James Version):
You are the light of the world. A city that
is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a
basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives
light to all who are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they
may see your good works and glorify your
Father in heaven.
The word “you” in verse 14 is emphatic in the Greek, as God is telling us in no uncertain terms that, yes, you are the light of the world. What an amazing truth! We are not a light of the world, but we are the light of the world because Christ lives in us. We shine as the light before people by our good works. Remember the connection that light has with goodness from the first usage of the word “good” in the Bible. These good works bring God’s light into a circumstance, problem, or challenge. These good works bring God’s light to the hearts and souls of people. The very nature of light is to shine and dispel darkness. These good works dispel the darkness of Satan’s kingdom. As Christian believers, we are to let our lights shine to the entire world. Jesus commands this, and in the Greek, there is a sense of urgency to this command. Now is the time to shine. The word “shine” in the Greek means: to radiate brilliantly, to beam forth, and to shine brightly. Our lives and works are to radiate brilliantly and shine brightly in the darkness of this age. We must let the wonderful light of Christ in us brilliantly shine forth in all its goodness and truth.
God does not want us to be an invisible believer who hides the beauty of Christ within under a basket of excuses. We let our light shine through the beautiful and attractive good works that come from Christ living in us. These good works are a revelation of God’s goodness and His glory. These good works come from the heart of God as He energizes, inspires, motivates, arouses, awakens, and stirs them within us. God is at the center of all these good works, and they bring glory and praise to His name. These good works reflect God’s divine character and show forth to the world the wonderful goodness, love, compassion, and mercy of our Heavenly Father. We are in the public relations department for God; we are ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are the divine representatives of God’s goodness upon the earth. We were created in Christ Jesus as poetic masterpieces to display His glory.
John Piper, in a Sermon entitled “God Created Us For His Glory,” elaborates on the truth that we are created to display the glory of God:
Ever since Adam and Eve chose to eat of the forbidden
tree in order to be like God, independent of Him and
wise in their own right, the human race has been
enslaved to a rebellious heart that hates to rely on God
but loves to make a name for itself…Man was created
from the beginning in God’s image that he might image
forth God’s glory. He was multiply and fill the earth so
that the knowledge of the glory of God would cover the
sea. And ever since the fall of man into sin, people have
refused to align themselves with this divine goal. But all
of God’s acts have been aimed at seeing it through…He
created us for His glory…The glory of God is the beauty
and excellence of His manifold perfections. It is an
attempt to put into words what God is like in His
magnificence and purity. It refers to His infinite and
overflowing fullness of all that is good. The term might
focus on His different attributes from time to time-like
His power and wisdom and mercy and justice-because
each one is indeed awesome and beautiful in its magnitude
and quality. But in general God’s glory is the perfect
harmony of all His attributes into one infinitely beautiful
and personable being…He created us to display His glory,
that is, His glory might be known and praised. This is the
goal of God that we must align our hearts and actions…
We do not do good works to make a name for ourselves, or so that we get all the glory. Don’t we have enough of this in the “what have you done for me lately” generation?” We bring the light of God’s goodness to this age of selfishness where so many are out for their own fame and fortune. We are concerned that people see the true image of God through our lives. It is when we lose our lives in Him that we find the true meaning in life. Selfishness always leads to frustration, disappointment, and defeat as the prideful journey of self-exaltation leads nowhere.
David Needham, in Birthright: Christian, Do You Know Who You Are?, sets forth a beautiful illustration of our birthright as Christians:
Let me tell you about an object I keep in the top
drawer of my desk. I have used it so often over the
years as an illustration that it is not only badly
chipped, it has produced several holes in my pockets
from carrying it around. Its a small glass prism (my
humble substitute for a diamond). Without light, it
really isn’t much at all. But with sunlight, Oh!
Suddenly you see all the shades of the rainbow
dancing across the wall, splashing colors upon
whatever it touches. Who is a Christian? In terms
of deep, spiritual personhood, he or she is God’s
uniquely designed prism, his ultimate spiritual
masterpiece. Created clean as a flawless diamond,
progressively being faceted as a receiver, responder,
and displayer of the otherwise invisible glories of
the infinite God into limitless, visible colors-the
rainbow of his own attributes-so that all creation
may see GOD. That is wonderfully true! And it is
simply amazing. Our lives are the means by which
the invisible God becomes visible to a world that
will not see him any other way. Our inmost being,
the prism; our flesh, the wall upon which colors
are seen. Could there be any greater purpose, any
greater significance than being alive for this?
We are God’s spiritual masterpiece and His flawless diamond who display the beautiful, vibrant colors of our God to the world. We are the city on the hill whose light can be seen for great distances. We are shining stars in the dark sky and light-bearers to all those in need. What a treasured possession you are to God, as you help the world to see the majesty and splendor of your heavenly Father.
II Corinthians 3:18-4:6 (Phillips):
All of us who are Christians have no veils
on our faces, but reflect like mirrors the
glory of the Lord. We are transformed in
ever increasing splendour into his own
image, and this is the work of the Lord
who is the Spirit.
This is the ministry which God in his mercy
has given us and nothing can daunt us.
We have set our faces against all shameful
secret practices; we use no clever tricks,
no dishonest manipulation of the Word of
God. We speak the plain truth and so
commend ourselves to every man’s conscience
in the sight of God.
If our gospel is “veiled”, the veil must be in
the minds of those who are spiritually dying.
The god of this world has blinded the minds
of those who believe not, and prevents the light
of the glorious gospel of Christ, the image of
God, from shining on them.
For it is Christ Jesus as Lord whom we preach,
not ourselves; we are your servants for Jesus sake.
God, who first ordered light to shine in darkness,
has flooded our hearts with his light, so we can
enlighten men with the knowledge of the glory
of God, as we see it in the face of Jesus Christ.
God has flooded our hearts with his light, and we reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord. But a wonderful transformation takes place each day of our lives, as we look to the Lord and to the written Word of God that reveals our true identity. We are transformed more and more into the likeness of God’s glorious Son day by day and reflect more and more of His splendor and God’s wonderful glory. It is like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. Day by day and moment by moment, we reflect more and more of the true image of God in our lives. God’s glory is reflected on our faces, in our words, in our actions, in our thoughts, and in the entire sphere of our lives.
We enlighten the minds of men and women to the knowledge of the glory of God through the face of Jesus Christ by holding forth the Word of Life and shining forth the glory of God through our good works. The devil, the god of this age, does everything in his power to stop the light from shining in the hearts and lives of spiritually dead people and accomplishes this through their unbelief. The devil even masquerades as a false angel of light to lead people away from the wonderful healing wholeness and salvation available in the glorious good news of Christ. But the devil has no power to extinguish or stop the light from setting people free and delivering all those who come to Christ and confess him as their Savior and Lord.
I Peter 2:9 (Amplified):
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a dedicated nation, God’s own purchased,
special people, that you may set forth the
wonderful deeds and display the virtues and
perfections of Him Who called you out of
darkness into His marvelous light.
As God’s own purchased, special people in Christ, we have the distinguished purpose of setting forth and displaying the wonderful virtues, perfections, and qualities of our God. The words “set forth” in the Greek mean: to bring the word out, to proclaim everywhere, to give out intelligence, to tell forth, and to make widely known. In modern vernacular, it could mean “to advertise.” This word also has the idea of declaring things that are unknown. This is the only place where this Greek word is used in the entire New Testament, but it is used 10 times in the book of Psalms in the Septuagint(the Greek Translation of the Old Testament), where in each usage the psalmist is proclaiming the magnificent excellencies of God.
The Greek word for “virtues and perfections” means: any quality where one stands out as excellent; the ability to perform heroic deeds; the demonstration of virtue by excellence in life; living up to one’s potential, and fulfilling one’s purpose with excellence. It is a tapestry of excellence and courage and denotes the courage to excel in life. It is goodness in action that produces something excellent.
God called us out of darkness into His marvelous light and earnestly desires for us to proclaim and make widely known to the world all of His excellent qualities, all of His powerful works, and all of His heroic deeds. God is the true hero of mankind. God has been absolutely heroic in His efforts to accomplish the redemption of mankind from the sin of Adam. God is the excellent one in all of His words and deeds. God has the courage of a mighty warrior, the strength of a thousand armies, the heart of a tender lover, the wisdom of a million minds, the righteousness of a thousand judges, the faithfulness of a million shepherds, the holiness of ten thousand sacrifices, and the power of a million universes. Nothing in heaven or earth compares to the splendid majesty of God Almighty.
We are to advertise to the world the glorious character of our God. This knowledge about the true goodness and nature of God is unknown or dimly seen by many people all over the earth. People see through a glass darkly when it comes to knowing the attributes and qualities of their Creator. We live in an age where it is often vital to national security to get accurate intelligence about a subject, nation, or movement. How much more important is it to have accurate intelligence about the Creator of the heavens and earth? How much more important is it to know the true nature and character of God. We are involved in the greatest advertising campaign ever! We are to advertise the truth about God’s goodness, which is the sum total of all of His excellent qualities, to every person who God brings across our paths.
We advertise to the world the glory of our God in two primary ways. The first way is to simply tell people about the wonderful qualities of God and the great things He has done. We hold forth the words of Life contained in the Bible; we proclaim the heroic deeds that God has accomplished in our lives and in the lives of others; we tell people about our wonderful Jesus and His victory at Calvary, and we share the awesome promises of deliverance and hope from the heart of God. The Lord knew how important this advertisement campaign was and exhorted the Apostle Paul to speak the good news and not to be silent.
Acts 18:9 (NIV):
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in
a vision: Do not be afraid; keep on
speaking, do not be silent. For I am
with you, and no one is going to
attack and harm you because I have
many people in this city. So Paul
stayed for a year and a half, teaching
them the word of God.
We must not be afraid; we cannot be silent. We must keep on speaking because God has many people in our cities and communities who desperately need to hear the gospel and heroic deeds and qualities of our awesome God.
The second way we advertise to the world the glory of our God is to live in such a way that people will be able to see the excellence and virtues of God in our lives. Our words, our actions, our thoughts, and our works should brilliantly reflect the marvelous qualities of our Heavenly Father and be stamped with His excellence. Good works that come from our living union with Jesus Christ shine forth his excellence and display to the world the good, loving, kind, merciful, tender, faithful, and caring nature of our God. We are a living advertisement of the glorious character, the fathomless love, and the tender mercies of the only true God. This is the dignity and special honor of the Christian life: that we can manifest to the world how great our God is and always will be.
In our good works, we take on the character and excellent qualities of our God. It is not just a simple good work, but it is who we are, transformed by a living, vital union with our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ. We are a witness to life as God intended it to be from the beginning. Our lives radiate joy, peace, patience, faith, goodness, kindness, love, and strength. We maybe the only Bible the world ever reads. We maybe the only Jesus the world ever sees. What a testimony we have! At one time we were held captive by the power of darkness, but God called us out of the darkness and gave us complete deliverance from all of the oppression, depression, fear, and hopelessness that dwell in that darkness. God Almighty called us into His marvelous light, and we became the light-bearers to the world.
The Greek word for “marvelous” means: wonderful, to look at with wonder and amazement, to marvel at, that which excites the feeling of wonder, extraordinary, striking, remarkable, and astonishing.” It is an awesome work or quality of the highest degree of excellence that causes great wonder, astonishment, and amazement. The marvelous light of God shows forth all of His brilliant and glorious attributes like the varied colors of the rainbow. We are children of light whose lives are a witness to the awesome and remarkable goodness and glory of God. Our good works should cause the world to marvel at our spectacular and marvelous God. The goodness of God is so awesome, so marvelous, so amazing, and so extraordinary that it takes your breath away. What a privilege to witness and advertise the goodness of God to the world.
Ephesians 5:8,9 (Revised English Bible):
Though you were once darkness, now
as Christians you are light. Prove yourselves
at home in the light.
For where light is, there is a harvest of
goodness, righteousness and truth.
(New American Bible):
For you were once darkness, but now you
are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.
For light produces every kind of goodness,
righteousness and truth.
When we walk as children of the marvelous light of God we will produce a harvest that reflects God’s goodness, righteousness, and truth. We will make an incredible mark upon the world when our lives bear the fruit of walking as children of light. We will be a living testimony of God’s goodness, His righteousness, and His truth. Let us make a commitment to shine brightly and advertise all of the excellencies of God’s glory to every person we meet.
We have another responsibility when it comes to good works that is often neglected. We are not only to excel in good works in the world, but we must never forget to excel in good works towards our Christian brothers and sisters. The history of Christianity is not a pretty sight. We have had inquisitions, crusades, witch trials, burning at the stake, excommunications, killings, great schisms, heretical charges, and wars between Christians. Christians have condemned, ostracized, criticized, ridiculed, harassed, abused, neglected, attacked, killed, reviled, and denounced each other with unrelenting passion throughout the ages. Christians have so often specialized in hate, not love; condemnation, not forgiveness; pride, not humility; greed, not giving; hypocrisy, not truth; blame, not responsibility; impatience, not longsuffering, and bitterness, not kindness. We have been poor representatives of our Jesus, and broken displays that fail to shine forth the characteristics of our loving Father. No wonder so many have not wanted to have anything to do with Christianity or Jesus Christ. How we have forgotten the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the words of the Apostle Paul to the church.
John 13:34,35 (The Message):
Let me give you a new command: Love
one another. In the same way I loved
you, you love one another.
This is how everyone will recognize that
you are my disciples-when they see the
love you have for one another.
Verse 35 (New Living Translation):
Your love for one another will prove to
the world that you are my disciples.
Verses 34,35 (Wuest):
A commandment, a new one, I am giving
you, that you should be constantly loving
one another with a divine and self-sacrificial
love; even as I love you, you also be loving
In this all shall know that you are my disciples,
if you constantly have love among one another.
Galatians 6:9,10 (New Living Translation):
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.
At just the right time we will reap a harvest of
blessing if we don’t give up.
Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity,
we should do good to everyone-especially to
those in the family of faith.
And let us not lose heart and grow weary and
faint in acting nobly and right, for in due time
and at the appointed season we shall reap, if
we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.
So then, as occasion and opportunity open to us
let us do good [morally] to all people [not only
being useful or profitable to them, but also doing
what is good for their spiritual advantage]. Be
mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of
the household of faith [ those who belong to
God’s family with you, the believers].
We are to love our Christian brothers with the same love that Jesus Christ loves us. The distinguishing mark of Christian disciples is the love that they constantly have among each other. Love is at the center of all of the good works that we are to be devoted to in the church. We diligently pursue to do good works to all people of any race, nation, gender, or creed, but we especially are to do good works to the household of faith. Why have Christians been so cruel and hateful toward each other given the Lord’s commandment? Why do Christians bite and devour one another instead of loving one another? If we are shining as lights for God, if we are walking in intimate fellowship with him, if Jesus is living in us, if we are reflecting His glory, then we are going to be walking in great love.
The word for “love” in John 13 is agapao, the same word used for the love God has for us. Agapao means: a love which is awakened by a sense of value in an object that causes one to prize it. It springs from an appreciation of the preciousness of an object and is a love of esteem for the value and worth of an object. It is a love of admiring affection. It is to love with wonder and admiration prizing the worth of the person loved. It means to cherish with reverence and to have an internal feeling of satisfaction, kindness, and regard for the beloved person of His affection.
We should cherish, respect, and value our Christian brothers and sisters. My, how we have fallen short of agapao love among us in the history of the Christian church. This agapao love is not dormant, but is active and is manifested by our good works that bless the Body of Christ. We are all members of His body, and the fullness of Christ fills each one of us. We are to especially have good works and words of tenderness, kindness, forgiveness, mercy, love, goodness, patience, faithfulness, and truth in our churches. We are so often too busy pointing the finger instead of extending a helping, compassionate, and understanding hand. God is at work in countless churches and numerous ministries that may be beyond our realm of Christian comfort or doctrine. Every single Christian on the face of the earth has something to contribute to the Body of Christ. God has a purpose, a dream, a vision, and a desire for greatness in the service of Christ for each born again believer. Every Christian believer is a poetic masterpiece in Christ, and God has magnificent good works ready to be energized if we will only walk forth spiritually in them in full partnership with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. If we ever want to manifest the marvelous glory of God and His goodness in our works, we must learn to love and help each other in the church.
God understands the challenge of a life dedicated to divine good works that reflect His character. The transformation of our lives into a representation of the living Christ is a growth process and has bumps, setbacks, and frustrations. Having Christ formed in our words, our thoughts, our actions and our lives, is a day by day growing process, like physical life when a newly born baby grows in time into a mature adult. Growing is an exciting process, but it is also can cause one to become weary and disenchanted by slow progress or development. It is easy to lose heart in developing a lifestyle of good works. We can grow weary and faint in the pursuit of the magnificent good works that God has specifically designed for us. This is often because we try to figure everything out, instead of just trusting God to change, transform, mold, and lead us into a life that is a glorious reflection of the heart and actions of our Lord Jesus Christ. We try to set our own timetables, and we have our own preconceived notions as to how God is supposed to work, what God is supposed to do, when God is supposed to do it, and how long it is going to take. We fail to realize that our times, our growth, our transformation, our fruit, our development, and our change are in His hands; we just need to trust and obey Him, and He will take care of the growth process. We must have childlike faith that God will work in our lives and energize within us the power, strength, ability and desire to live for Him and display His glory to the world through our words and deeds.